I met Brett Cornell at an industry event. As we got to talking, we discovered shared interests in web marketing and web CMS. At the time, Brett was working on a major website re-design. Recently, I checked in with Brett to see how the re-design went. And he agreed to participate in this Q&A. You can find Brett on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Tell us about some recent experiences with web marketing?
I used to manage the web properties for
Fluidigm Corporation, a company that creates and manufactures innovative technologies and life-science tools based on microfluidics and mass cytometry.
These tools enable the exploration and analysis of individual cells, as well as the industrial application of genomics. I worked on all of the web properties for the global brand, including the websites in China and Japan.
Pictured: Brett Cornell. Find Brett on Twitter: @CrowdedHead
Fluidigm is a large company with a lot of diverse researchers needing support, service, and information on our latest products. Fluidigm shares their stories and successes: their groundbreaking research inspires us to push the technology further.
Fluidigm differentiates themselves by pushing boundaries in usability and design in science and that spirit also pushed us in the development of our new website. The website is a destination where you see this come to life.
What are the keys to an effective and engaging website?
We spent a lot of time thinking about this in our most recent brand re-design. We engaged
fuseproject, a local SF agency founded by Yves Behar to work on the front-end design. We talked a lot about sites like Medium, Audi, and Aston Martin to really showcase engagement, interaction, and how users would engage with our site via mobile, iPad, or other device.
Making our site responsive and pushing story-telling front-and-center was a way we put the customer at the middle of the conversation. As a company we’re successful because of our customers.
We wanted to talk more about those breakthroughs in scientific understanding that these customers have achieved (utilizing Fluidigm technology) and describe how we can help drive scientific discovery, as opposed to just showing the product specs of an instrument.
We focused on five key elements to help us drive engagement:
- Cutting-edge design (moving away from the pack)
- We embraced risk taking to be at the fore-front of design, much like we encourage our customers’ to do in science.
- We added organic elements to our website to empower the senses, and relied on dynamic cinematic imagery to help us capture attention.
- We delivered content that is rich, engaging, and “gestural” – very interactive.
- And lastly, we dealt with a lot of UX, taxonomy issues which helped us assemble the site and make it easier to manage, publish and internationalize.
You worked on a project to re-design the Fluidigm website. Tell us about your approach?
The homepage and all of the Fluidigm design was done through a long and collaborative process with designers and project managers at fuseproject. A lot of the discussions started with our customers in mind. What were their needs and how they typically engage with Fluidigm. We then took a look at competitors and companies outside of our industry.
We wanted to leverage video and cinematic images, to merge science and art. Because of the long history of the Fluidigm brand, we wanted to revamp our vision and mission to help tell our fuller, richer story.
With a recent acquisition, we had a complex and varied story and offering that was missing from a lot of the older materials. We had something incredibly important to say. We told our story with our recently re-designed instruments and website.
My first questions always revolved around features and engagement - what could we offer to keep people interested, engaged, and committed to the Fluidigm community. We tried to tie a lot of the website content into our social business and outreach efforts, to spark conversation and allow the exchange of ideas to happen.
The website additionally has a very scientific journal way of making comments on articles and joining hangouts and forum conversations.
How does mobile change the way you think about web design and web marketing?
Mobile devices were was absolutely at the forefront of our minds. We knew we had to change or die. In fact, we put together a 3-5 year roadmap that will allow us to interact with mobile exclusively. We did a lot of paring down of the content (which is difficult to do in the sciences) and focused more on showing instead of telling.
When it came to the UX, we designed with all of the break-points in mind for various devices. We enabled the CMS to auto-resize images to allow for gallery display. We completely re-worked the navigation to help make mobile selection, swiping, and interactivity a priority.
We started with the mobile designs and scaled up to the tablet/laptop version. We wanted to initially simplify so that users didn’t get bogged down in navigation and have too many choices.
We wanted the experience to be a single-column with parallax scrolling and dynamic animations and video.A true fit for mobile consumption.
What does a Content Management System (CMS) do for you?
Content Management System (CMS) is crucial for an organization. It removes bottlenecks in the IT and web team and empowers the content authors, product managers, and marketing specialists to contribute to the site’s content.
On that basis alone, the CMS often sells itself. My goal was to enable 5-10 authors access to the CMS, thus widening the web team’s reach and allowing knowledge holders to share their expertise.
Complete audit and roll-back capabilities are essential from a legal and compliance perspective and from a code and QA perspective. Our CMS had to support years of document control and retention as well as be robust enough to have a weekly publication schedule of dynamic content.
10 Common Website Scenarios that Make a Web CMS Essential
What are the key metrics you track for your web presence?
Every business is different. I’ve seen a lot of top performing metrics and best in class key performance indicators (KPIs) come and go. It really comes down to what moves your business. If your website is a lead-generating channel, then the measurement is filling, qualifying, and engaging your lead pipeline.
If it’s commerce, then you have a revenue goal to attain. In my work with both Affymetrix and Fluidigm, the top metrics we looked at where total amount of engagements, reduction in service times via support and total reach. We had a few others, but those were the primary drivers.
Designers, developers, content editors. How do you coordinate your contributors, to ensure you get what you need, when you need it?
This is something we’re always on top of. We use a multitude of resources to manage our efforts, including tools like Microsoft Project, Asana and JIRA. In JIRA, we maintain ticketing, code deployment, code and branch management, etc.
We strictly adhere to a project timeline, change order process, and have accountability for each thread defined. This helps all of our team members stay transparent, connected and working collaboratively. The design team works hand in hand with us to make sure the design is displayed and the features are intuitive.
On the website, we work with a few vendors to make sure the services are representative of the business, across the board. We plan their interactions through our central PMO office, helping to make sure vendors collaborate and work in tandem.
How do you stay current on web technologies?
We mainly stay focused on conference events and technology-related meetups where we can learn first-hand best practices and baseline data to make our site flourish. We read
WebAppers, Digital Inspiration, The Next Web, ReadWrite and Mashable.
On Twitter, we follow folks like
@codylindley and @randfish for their expertise in Java and SEO. We’re typically gathering the latest from vendors at events like Dreamforce and Mobile World Congress.
What’s the future of Web CMS?
I would say that its important for CMS to adapt for a more mobile and geographically dispersed team. I’d say CMS could benefit from:
- Embedded real-time analytics. Performance right on the content, nearby for easy A/B testing or updating instantly.
- Leveraging preferences and data from the web to recommend or make connections within the data set. Ability to network content together to create behavioral paths or buying journeys. Data and cognitive technology will enable these behaviors and paths to self-assemble.
- "Twitter-cize” - The ability to capture thoughts and create shorter-form articles. Enterprises can take a page from bloggers and other forms of citizen media: we’re all journalists and able to create and share content in an instant.
- Websites are merging into apps – encourage that symbiosis. Allow your sites to collect data via devices and to personalize it and reflect it back in a useful way to the user. Design for mobile with a simplified app experience.
Try Our Web CMS
Create a stunning website that attracts and engages your target audience. Expand the content pipeline and keep your website fresh and up to date.
Try all of our product features, including:
- Page creation
- Asset management
- Content analytics
See it for yourself: sign up for a 14-day trial of Evoq